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Venezuela: 12 deaths and 90 political prisoners

By Aleksander Boyd

London 04 Mar. 04 – The G-15 summit held in Caracas last Friday served as an impromptu thermometer of Venezuelan political forces. On the one hand a regime that has lost all vestiges of respect and credibility not only at a national scale but internationally and on the other side an opposition that has been gaining momentum having managed to surpass the wave of contrary opinion. The meeting turned also into a gladiator’s arena; the extraordinary deployment of military force by the government, in a desperate attempt to placate voices of dissent, backfired causing a rather undesirable breach of protocol by President Lula Da Silva who left the very same day he arrived. Argentina’s Kirchner went further; he met for nearly two hours with opposition leaders on Saturday which caused his delayed arrival to a meeting with Chavez.

The aggravation that Chavez’ political persona has suffered owing to his own diplomatic clumsiness pales next to the unnecessary and tragic loss of life that has taken place in the country since that day. State repression, excessive use of military force, brutality, political prosecution and assassinations, torture and utter disregard to human rights principles evidence, quite clearly, that Hugo Chavez is nothing but a criminal. Many of us have written extensively about these issues for quite sometime only to be dismissed by the international community that perceived our views as inflated, biased and even nonsensical. However the killing of 11 protesters and the imprisonment of at least 90 in the last five days reveal, in Dantesque manner, the true colours of the Bolivarian revolution spearheaded by Hugo Chavez. His project of participatory democracy died tragically at the hands of the National Electoral Council (CNE) that decided to cast aside more than one million signatures two days ago disesteeming OAS and Carter Centre recommendations. The difficulty in gathering veritable information about political prisoners due to violations to proper legal procedures and State’s breach of performance in filing accusations trashes definitely the legitimacy of Venezuela’s administration.

Nevertheless not all is lost; the international community’s opinion with respect to Hugo Chavez has changed dramatically in the last week or so. Amnesty International has expressed, in two occasions already, utmost concern about the current situation vis-à-vis human rights. Similar observations have been made by the EU, the Inter American Human Rights Court, the OAS’ Group of Friends, European and American politicians, media outlets and NGOs. Amazingly the BBC world service called me last night to gather information regarding the ‘opposition’s view’ of the conflict. One of the questions was ‘do you think the actual climate of instability in the country is due to America’s intervention?’ It is such good scapegoat, isn’t it? In my opinion Chavez is desperately trying to deviate attention from the graver internal issues by picking up a fight with Bush. However Castro’s strategy will not save him. Moreover, how can one relate the illegal decision of the CNE to covert American destabilization tactics? Are Carrasquero, Rodriguez and Battaglini CIA agents? For the root of the upheaval is the CNE’s absurd measure, period. Another journalist from Italy rang as well to learn more about the missing persons and political detainees. This may look unimportant, however having taken an openly adversarial position against the crooked government of Hugo Chavez made me, in the eyes of the leftist outlets, persona non grata. Fortunately they are starting to realize the seriousness of the crisis and have commenced to call things by its name.

Prosecution charges against Luis Guillermo Perez Amoros (my wife’s uncle) are still pending. He is been kept incommunicado at the Helicoide -headquarters of DISIP- State’s political police. Santiago Monteverde and Pedro Vasquez are in the same situation. Justice Deyanira Nieves adjourned the hearing another day (five already).

On a different note fundamentalists of the chavista camp keep accusing time and time again the NED and the American administration for having granted about 1$million to ‘opposition groups’ in Venezuela, among which the much dreaded civil association Sumate that is bent on ousting the president. The European Union has given approximately 40€million to the government of Venezuela to develop housing projects for the victims of Vargas’ floods of 1.999. Here’s a query for Chavez’ sycophants; where are these developments? Specific geographic locations I am talking about. Is it not true that this administration cares for the poor and as such ought to be looking after them?

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